No. 424 - St Andrew's Catholic Church at Bothwell (1864-1939)

Bothwell is one of the oldest settlements in Tasmania. It is situated on the Clyde River, about 75km miles from Hobart. The name Bothwell was given by Governor Arthur after "Bothwell" in Scotland. Bothwell is classified as an historic town. The majority of the first settlers were from Scotland. Bothwell once had four churches of which the Anglican, Uniting (Presbyterian) and Catholic remain.

Bothwell’s first Catholic church opened in 1864 but was replaced by a new church that was built in 1940. This blog entry will briefly review the establishment of the first church and a seperate entry will focus on the second church.

Bothwell was never an important centre for the Catholic Church and was administered from Oatlands and later fell under the authority of the New Norfolk parish. Perhaps for this reason there is little published information about the early years of the church in the town. Mass was held from the mid 1850’s and in the early 1860’s the Catholic Church was given a two-acre grant of land by the Colonial Government. In 1864, Bishop Willson applied for permission to quarry stone on Mount Adelaide outside the town, “towards the completion of a church at Bothwell for the use of the Roman Catholic community”. The building was designed by Henry Hunter and was it was consecrated by Bishop Willson on Sunday 11 December 1864. No published record of the opening seems to have survived. The church’s historical record over the next 74 years of its existence is extremely thin and there is little of interest apart from its demolition in September 1939, only weeks after the outbreak of World War Two.

In the 1930’s fundraising began to build a new church, ostensibly because of problems with the foundations and because the building was considered too small. The stone was reused in the new church which is not much larger than the building it replaced. The history of the new church will be the topic of a follow-up blog entry.

St Andrew's prior to its demolition - source interpretation signage at the church

The Mercury December 1864


The Mercury, Wednesday 7 December 1864, page 3

Southerwood, W. T Planting a faith in Tasmania : the country parishes. [W. T. Southerwood], [Hobart], 1977.

Ellis, Shauna.  Bothwell revisited : a history : foundation, federation and the millennium / edited by Shauna Ellis  Bothwell Historical Society Bothwell, Tas  2001


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